As a busy week continues, the Canadiens are ready for their third challenge of the preseason: a clash with the Chicago Blackhawks, which will take them past the midway point of a stretch of three games in a row.
Most all of the Habs' training camp attendees have had a look in preseason action, and with the first batch of cuts only a couple of days away, time runs short for prospects to standout. Despite the talented lineup iced by the Capitals last night, tonight's game promises to be the Habs' toughest tune-up yet.
How to Watch
Tale of the Tape
|49.7||Score-Adjusted Fenwick %||52.2|
|1.19||5v5 Goal Ratio||1.15|
*All stats are from the 2014-15 regular season.
Know Your Enemy
The Chicago Blackhawks' offseason narrative has been dominated by one story, which has been well covered elsewhere. But while that story rightfully assumes top billing, there are myriad on-ice questions to be answered by the braintrust behind last season's Stanley Cup champions.
Top forwards Brandon Saad and Patrick Sharp have both departed, and in their place are players like Artem Anisimov and Marko Dano. Dano is an exciting young prospect, but with just a half season of NHL experience under his belt, he has work to do to establish himself as part of the Blackhawks' formidable forward corps. Anisimov is in a similar position; while his track record is long enough to attest to his abilities as an effective NHLer, recent injury troubles mean that Anisimov also needs to prove himself.
Perhaps most important is the continued development of Teuvo Teravainen, who earned some time in the spotlight during the cup run. The question now is not whether or not he will be slotted into the lineup, but how much of an impact he can make.
Stan Bowman has already shown that he is capable of quickly retooling a Stanley Cup team to avoid cap constraints, but with the burdensome contracts of Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, and Corey Crawford on the books, his challenge will be much greater this time. If the Blackhawks are to contend again, the contributions of their young players and new acquisitions will be front and centre.
Last Time Out
The Canadiens played an impressive, entertaining game against Chicago last December. As is wont to happen against the Blackhawks, unfortunately, the Habs did not come away with a victory. A P.K. Subban powerplay slap shot gave the Canadiens a late second period lead, but after Toews tied things up, Saad crushed the Habs dreams with 27 seconds to go.
On the positive side, the game did lay something of a blueprint for how to approach tonight's game. The Canadiens played the type of fast and skilled game we don't always see from this fast and skilled team, and final outcome aside, the only real concern was a Lars Eller injury. If the Habs can emerge from tonight's contest intact, this game can be considered a success.